Five Republicans Vie for District 17

Aug. 23 primary will decide November ballot

There are five candidates in the Republican primary on Aug. 23 for House District 17, which includes Philipstown; the winner will appear on the November ballot.

Voting in the Republican and Conservative Primaries

Unlike in the general election, you must be a registered member of the party to cast a ballot.

The polls will be open Aug. 23 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. There are two polling place changes in Philipstown for the primary: If you usually vote at the Continental Village clubhouse, you will vote at the Garrison Firehouse at 1616 Route 9. If you usually vote at the North Highlands Firehouse, you will vote at the Methodist Church at 216 Main St. in Cold Spring.

How to register
The deadline to register to vote in the Aug. 23 primary has passed. If you are not sure of your status, visit voterlookup.elections.ny.gov.

Early voting
The polls will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from Aug. 13 to Aug. 21, except Aug. 16 and 18, when they will be open from noon to 8 p.m. Philipstown residents can vote at the North Highlands Firehouse, 504 Fishkill Road, and Beacon residents at Fishkill Town Hall, 807 Route 52.

The candidates are Shoshana David, a Westchester County resident who would be, according to her campaign, the “first Orthodox Jewish woman in Congress”; Charles Falciglia, a member of the Rockland County Legislature; William Faulkner, a corporate executive and Somers Town Board member in Westchester; Mike Lawler, a state Assembly member who represents part of Rockland County; and Jack Schrepel, who lives in Orange County.

Faulkner and Lawler are also competing in the Conservative Party primary.

Democratic Primary

The two candidates for House District 17 who will appear on the Aug. 23 ballot, Alessandra Biaggi and Sean Patrick Maloney, met in a virtual League of Women Voters forum on Aug. 1. Their responses are excerpted here.

Four of the five candidates participated in a virtual forum on July 28 organized by the League of Women Voters; their responses are excerpted below, with light editing for clarity. The forum can be viewed at bit.ly/17-Republican. We invited David, who did not participate in the forum, to answer the questions posed by the League but she has not responded. Instead, we have included policy statements from her website, when applicable.

Abortion /  Supreme Court

Lawler

Lawler

Lawler: The decision by the Supreme Court basically overturned Roe vs. Wade and made it a states’ rights issue. Each state now will determine abortion policy with respect to its own citizens. Obviously, the position of Sean Patrick Maloney, as well as Alessandra Biaggi, is one that is very extreme. They believe in abortion up to the day of birth. They believe non-doctors should be allowed to perform abortions. Most residents across the country want a reasonable discussion on this topic. And that’s something that I think is going to be decided state-to-state across the country, based on the Supreme Court decision.

Faulkner: I would leave it to the states. The overturning of Roe vs. Wade does not change anything at all in the state of New York. It remains legal. It’s too liberal in New York and I believe that abortion up to and including the day before birth is too extreme. That is really where the discussion should be, as opposed to: “Should it be a national issue?” This is something that should be left to the states.

Schrepel: The court’s decision certainly took it out of the federal equation, turned it over to the states, as was just stated. There are extreme conditions in considering, you know, what is right and what isn’t. If the mother’s life is in jeopardy, that would be something to take under serious review — and an option. But at this point, it’s up to the individual states. And that’s where I’m at with it.

Falciglia: I don’t really believe that states should be deciding this. It is the United States’ issue. So to say we should have states’ rights with this, when you’re talking about reproducing the human race, is wrongheaded. We only hear the far end of this issue: That at conception, that’s it; you have to have the birth. Or, you can have an abortion a day before you give birth. There’s a wide chasm there. This should be a national referendum — to answer or clear up these questions. And I would go as far as having just women vote on it.

Farming

Faulkner

Faulkner

Faulkner: The importance of farming is, or should be, recognized nationwide. Anybody who likes to eat should be respecting farmers. With regard to farming subsidies: back them to the extent it makes sense. And I would throw into that, in terms of what makes sense, we’re going to need to increase the buffer. Whatever the production level is, based on what happened in Ukraine, the breadbasket of Europe and how their supply was severely disrupted, we’re going to need to make sure that we’ve got capacity. And much like we should be energy independent, we should certainly be food independent. That’s why I certainly support farmers, have since I was a teenager.

Schrepel: It’s so essential that we maintain our nation of farmers. This one farmer’s wife made it clear to me that whatever you do in your campaign, do not make the farmer irate: Help them in any which way you can, from a federal level, whether it be with subsidies, low-interest loans, helping them with new equipment. They’re obviously the bread-and-butter of this country, to help feed us, and we should, with all the land we have throughout the country, be food independent. I would wholeheartedly support whatever programs are necessary to help increase farm productivity.

Falciglia: Unfortunately, you’ll find many times, someone owns a farm. A developer comes along, offers them so much money that they say: “Well, here’s my chance to get out.” So what we have to do is, maybe, buy the land, and lease it back to those farmers. And I also agree that as far as the equipment for farming — I wouldn’t even loan money to them. I would allow them to have a tax credit, or just a giveaway, so that they can buy up-to-date and modern equipment. The thing is you have to keep them there. You don’t want them selling the land. Rockland County used to be full of farms. And now there’s very few left.

Lawler: Agriculture is the largest industry in New York state, a critical part of our economy here, related to the food supply, as well as sourcing of goods and materials. A lot of the challenges have to do with cost: the cost of living, the cost of goods, the cost of manufacturing, the cost of energy. We need to focus on taxes and tax relief, on estate taxes. So many of these family farms get impacted severely by estate taxes. And the labor market is critically important. Many regulations that New York state puts in have a negative impact on these family farms. So we have to look from a regulatory standpoint, from a labor-market standpoint, how we can help these family farms thrive and also ensure that we have the goods and the product available. Finally, it goes back to energy. We need to make sure that we have cheap, reliable, affordable energy for our industries across the state.

Climate

Faulkner: There’s two broad categories for energy: fossil fuels and renewable fuels. And my philosophy, my game plan, would be all of the above; I would also include nuclear. I don’t know why we’re having a lack of energy, an energy crisis, and then we’re turning and shutting down Indian Point, which powers a lot of New York City. It’s completely counterintuitive. Two things have to occur concurrently. Short term, we have to make sure that we open up our drilling to our U.S. companies, who are going to pump out the oil and send it through the pipelines and give it to you, the American consumer. That’s going to have a trickle effect, because it’s going to reduce inflation and it’s going to help the overall economy. Renewables are also important. We had an opportunity in town where, for your home electricity, you could have green, greener or greenest energy sources. We gave people the option and most want the greener option.

Schrepel

Schrepel

Schrepel: We have to continue research on different sources of energy beyond fossil fuels. In our lifetime, it’s likely we will not run out of oil. But we can’t continue to rely on that. Electric-powered cars are a great alternative and should continue to be researched. With nuclear power, there are a number of different generators that are being brought online and are under development. That should be expanded. But we have to keep in mind what we need currently. In getting back on course, we have to unlock the pipelines and utilize what we currently have as we’re developing new technologies, whether it be solar power, to keep everything latent running in your phone, to hydrogen fuel cells, possibly as an alternative to run your automobiles. There are a number of things out there that have been tabled over the years and they should be revisited.

Falciglia: There’s two avenues, I guess, to go. One is nuclear power. We should build or be investing in building more plants. On top of that, we should invest heavily with solar panels. I see them on the roofs of more and more houses. I understand you have to put in some safeguards, which are expensive. But once again, the government usually subsidizes those, but I’m talking more about solar panel fields. So those are two areas that I would look into. We are increasing electric cars and are going to have a day where you’re going to go into the gas station and charge your car instead of putting gas in it. So those two areas I would invest heavily in.

Lawler: I’m all in favor of renewables and the effort to reduce our carbon emissions. We want to make sure that we have clean air. I have solar panels on my house, so I have no problem with it. But 60 percent of New Yorkers rely on natural gas. We need to be realistic about where the technology is today, with respect to renewables, and the need for dispatchable energy. Natural gas has reduced carbon emissions by more than 30 percent, greater than oil and coal. So, as we are transitioning toward that renewable future, we need to be realistic about what we need to get there. Natural gas really is that bridge to help us get there. With Indian Point shutting down, with Danskammer being blocked, one of my big concerns for the region, and for our energy grid, is whether we’re going to be able to produce enough electricity to help keep us powered in the way that we need to. And especially when you’re talking about things like trying to attract manufacturing, you need cheap, reliable energy.

David: While climate change is real, it is not an excuse to impose increased regulations and a socialist model. We must invest in forward-looking technologies rather than rework existing technologies. Aspirational legislation is the answer, not restrictive and regulatory.

Gun Violence

Falciglia

Falciglia

Falciglia: It’s not just gun violence. It’s violence in general in this country. It goes back to the fact that the word illegal has become cheap; there’s no penalty anymore. Only 2 percent of gun violence — which is still 2 percent more than we should have — comes from these mass shootings and so on; 98 percent is just typical street violence from handguns. We need to put another 100,000 law enforcement people on the streets and in office: 50,000 cops on the street patrolling and 50,000 prosecutors, FBI agents and U.S. marshals and so on, doing the back-work. That’s where I would fund.

Lawler: Our citizens have the right to exercise their Second Amendment. We need to make sure that our laws treat people fairly, and certainly, as long as they are eligible, that they’re able to exercise their Second Amendment rights. But what we’re dealing with right now is a scourge of violence where guns are being used in the commission of a crime — and, in the cases of Buffalo and Uvalde, involve mass shootings and deranged young men using a gun to kill many, many innocent lives. That cannot be tolerated. But we need to address a number of issues. No. 1: Bail where repeat violent offenders are being released. No. 2: Raising the age where 16- and 17-year-olds who are using guns in the commission of crime are being treated in family court rather than criminal court. We need to address mental health within our states, in our country. I support red-flag laws [to keep guns from mentally unstable persons] as long as there is due process. We need to have universal background checks. I’m open to training, especially. States like Texas have training for pistol permits. And school safety: We need to harden our schools.

Faulkner: I swore an oath three times to protect and defend the United States Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment. I think this issue is very much warped from what it should be. It’s not an issue of guns. It’s certainly not an issue of legal guns. And I think the statistics that Mr. Falciglia noted are even higher: 99 percent of legal gun owners will never use their gun in any sort of crime. It’s the 1 percent, which is bad. But 99 percent of crimes that include a gun are by illegal gun owners or not gun owners at all. Those are the people who should be gone after. I’ll do my job at the federal level. Get rid of illegal guns.

Schrepel: With regard to rights and owning a handgun and supporting the Second Amendment — I’m all for that. It’s, to Mr. Faulkner’s point, that 1 percent where the issue may lie with legal gun owners. The majority falls with illegal use of handguns. And the law should be strengthened to just really enforce that it’s a felony: You’re walking around with a loaded weapon without a permit, without it properly registered, you’re going to jail, and there’s not going to be any release. There has to be a stronger deterrent. The problem lies in gun violence with those who get ahold of a weapon illegally and use it. And the law is not enforcing that it’s a felony.

David

David

David: The Bill of Rights affords every citizen the right to own a weapon. That right must be safeguarded with background checks and a limitation on some weapons of war. Not everyone can have police at their defense so quickly. Citizens deserve the right to protect themselves and their families. We must use technology allowing for 99 percent of all background checks to be completed within three hours.

Health Care

Lawler: We need to continue to look at ways to reduce the cost of providing health care, ways to reduce the cost of purchasing health care. We need to look at ways to ensure that there is competition within the marketplace. Obviously, in New York State, we invest heavily in providing health care assistance to those who can’t afford it, to children, to making sure that people have had access to it. That’s something that I want to continue to certainly focus on from a federal level. But a lot of these decisions are made at a state level with respect to policy and plans. And so we need to look at ways to help reduce those costs at a state level, to make sure that people have access to it.

Faulkner: In terms of terms of coverage for health care, we obviously have Medicare and Medicaid for everybody, one or the other for everybody. And we also have emergency room access to anybody in the country, whether they’re here illegally or not. So they do get the emergency care they need — anybody, anytime. I do believe in the principle of those who can afford it should be able to afford it, rather than leaving it to government agencies; there’s a sense of personal responsibility. If you’re 26 years old or more, you’re no longer able to be on your parents’ policy; you have to be on your own. That’s a good thing, again, in terms of personal responsibility. What I would like to see more attention put on is mental health. We know we have people who genuinely need help, and who genuinely are not getting it, and they are causing harm for themselves and others. There’s got to be a better way to pull them into a system where they can get the treatment they need.

Schrepel: I’m very supportive of expanding and making it more competitive, more choices for individuals to make. Many people who are employed have health care through their companies, and they make the contribution. Children being covered up to age 26 — I continue to support that. Medicare and Medicaid is provided along with emergency access, which is all good. But to make it more accessible, alternatives have to be developed within the health care industry through an expansion of benefits they can offer. That’s essential to reaching out to those that may not be aware of it, don’t have the means to afford it. Also, I was looking at first-responders. So many of them deal with emotional and mental issues while on the job or after completing an assignment. That [mental health care] has to be expanded so that they’re mentally and emotionally fit, as well as physically. We need we need to look at how we can enlarge on those benefits for them.

Falciglia: I don’t know if there’s any correct answer on how to cover everybody. One of the biggest expenses of health care is health care insurance companies, because before they issue a check, they pay their employees, the heat, the lights, etc. I’ve toyed with the concept over the years of creating hospital zones. I’m in the public school district, but I should be in the hospital-zone district, where part of my pay and my employer’s contribution goes right to the hospital. They would have to manage that, of course; government would have to subsidize those hospitals, for example, that fall short. I think it was Mr. Faulkner’s point: Anyone who needs care in some kind of emergency is going to be able to go to an emergency room. We’re not like some countries where we turn you away. But it all goes back to where we subsidize this from.

David: All Americans should have choice in health care. At the same time health care is a human right, and the government must ensure that all American can access health care. Medicare-for-all is unrealistic and un-American. We must incentivize healthy living because healthy citizens give more and take less from the government.

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